Catholic World News

Magi are models of using both faith and reason, Pope notes

January 06, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI offered the Magi as an example of “unity between intelligence and faith” as he spoke to a crowd in St. Peter’s Square on January 6, the feast of the Epiphany.

Earlier, in the Vatican basilica, the Holy Father had celebrated Mass for the Epiphany—which is celebrated as a holy day at the Vatican. In his homily the Pope observed that while the prophets foretold the arrival of the Messiah a great king, to whom all the other kings of the earth would bow, in fact the humble birth of Christ drew no attention from the rich and powerful of Jerusalem. Instead, he said, the Christ child was visited by “kings of the East—unknown characters, perhaps views with suspicion.”

When those three kings offered gifts to Jesus, the Pope continued, they were submitting themselves to Him. “The Kings can no longer continue on their way, they can not return to Herod, they can not be allied with that powerful and ruthless ruler. Have been brought over forever to the path of the Child.”

At his midday Angelus audience, the Pope offered a different set of thoughts about the Magi, noting that they were men of learning, for whom the entire universe was “virtually a great book full of signs and messages from God to man.” They studied the skies, and profited from their own learning, but—the Pope stressed—they were still “open to further appeals and divine revelations.” When they reached Jerusalem, they inquired in Herod’s court for advice from Jewish scholars, to help them understand the prophets. Although they must have thought of themselves as men of science; they were “not ashamed to ask for directions from the religious leaders of the Jews.”

Thus reason and faith were combined by the Wise Men in their search. The Pope said that “the star and the Scriptures were the two lights that guided the journey of the three kings.” Their thorough integration of these two paths to knowledge is a model for our time, when so many people see reason and faith in conflict, the Pope concluded.

Before ending his audience the Pope offered a special greeting to the Eastern churches, which will celebrate the Nativity on January 7. "May the mystery of light - he hoped – be a source of joy and peace to every family and community,” he said.


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